Jason Duhon is a man of passion. He has a passion for family, a passion for car culture, and a passion for Cadillacs. I was fortunate enough to meet Jason while I was in Laughlin, NV for the Forbidden Fantasy show and I can personally attest to the statements above. The pride he has in his sons was palpable as he described their accomplishments to me. At certain times during our conversations he would call out to someone walking by and walk over to give them a hug. It was refreshing to see a grown man with so many healthy interpersonal relationships within the car culture. The other thing that became immediately obvious was that Jason is an absolute Cadillac fanatic. And to be honest, that might even be putting it lightly. Jason is a man to watch in the coming years. His brain is full of big plans and after seeing his 1968 Coupe de Ville he built for SEMA, I have a feeling he’s going to execute those plans with precision.
In addition to his deep passions, one of the things I liked most about Jason was his humbleness. He is proud of his “Big Bitch” a nickname for his 1968 Coupe de Ville but, there’s no sense of arrogance or pretentiousness in that pride. A lot of people in his position would make braggadocios claims about the build with their chests puffed, not Jason. Every question I asked was met with either a plain-spoken response or with an edge of excitement to his voice. We walked around as he pointed out a detail here or there and yes, he even let me sit in his ride! A build that was on the SEMA floor and the owner let me sit in it. That’s as down-to-Earth as it gets.
A Note from Jeff Cantagallo, CarShowz.com – I had the opportunity to check out Jason’s 1968 Coupe de Ville at SEMA 2016. The Caddy was instantly one of my favorites from SEMA. The paint, interior, just the overall build of the Caddy was amazingly executed. I took several photos from SEMA ’16 (included below) and was instantly a fan. After posting on Facebook several photos of the Caddy, I reached out to a fellow Club Mate of Jason’s and one of my friends, “Rocky” to see who owned the Caddy. With the power of social media almost instantly Jason was tagged in the post and we became friends. It is pretty cool to be able to put a face to a build.
Fast forward from November (SEMA) to February, Lone Star Throwdown 2017, I am walking through the fairgrounds and here comes Jason walking from the opposite direction. I said, “Jason, what’s up man I’m Jeff from CarShowz.” I felt like I found a long lost relative, Jason came over gave me a hug and we instantly bonded, as I had no doubt in my mind Jason is a genuine dude. Jason invited us out to Vegas for the Forbidden show, offered to pick us up at the airport and stay at his house. There’s not many people who are that generous, it’s a good feeling to know there are good people out there. It’s also a good feeling to know Jason trusts us and knows we are not serial killers or something.
I reached out to Kevin and we started to brain storm about the Forbidden show to see who would be able to make the trip. Kevin is 5 hours out since he is now based out of Arizona. Logistically it made sense he would make the trip and we both knew we need to seize this opportunity to feature Jason’s 1968 Coupe de Ville.
Kevin had the opportunity to interview Jason, check out the questions and his responses below:
Carshowz: Before I get into asking about the Caddy, I’d like to find out some more about you. Would you mind giving us a short history of yourself? Where are you from, when did you know you were a car guy, how did you get into the show scene; those kinds of things.
Jason Duhon: I was born and raised in California, then moved in with family in Louisiana, and then Utah for about 20 years. Short stints in a few other states here and there, then in Las Vegas, Nevada for the last 7 years. I have been a “car guy” most of my life. As my dad had been a fan of Cadillacs and motorcycles, so was I. I raised my two boys alone as a single dad. I also have an MBA as far as education goes. I started customizing my first car before I had a license. Then at 18 I started building my first minitruck; a 1984 Nissan 720 and I was in a club called “Colors of Success”. Then from there I had a 1984 Prelude and started the largest minitruck club in Utah called “Decibel Rollers”. Then I rolled right into a 1979 Cadillac Fleetwood and I joined the “Intermountain Cadillac Club” and “The Unlucky Ones” in Utah. I’ve pretty much stayed with building Cadillacs from then on.
CZ: You’re affiliated with Freaks of Nature. Can you explain what the club is about and what it means to you?
JD: Freaks is so much more than an affiliation or car club. This group is my family. We aren’t a “sticker club.” This is truly a family and since I have been in the car show scene for more than 25 years I am telling you there is nothing like my FREAK family. We travel together, we build together and we show together. I have met FREAKS all over this country and nation and there is truly nothing like this family. The true nature of the club is built on old school values and the way things should be and used to be. Like any large group, you always have the bad apples but they are few and far between and they seem to weed themselves out over time.
CZ: You’re a builder at Precious Metal. How did you get started with that, how long have you been doing it, and did that help at all with the build?
JD: I have been building cars bikes and truck for more than 25 years and started my boys building cars at 5 years old. So, as they started getting older we formed an official company to do so. We build under PRECIOUS METAL to differentiate us and what we do. My youngest son also builds cars and has a bagged 89 Dime with a SB350 engine he built from the block out. He also painted it himself at 17. He’s going to UTI in Phoenix to hone his craft and be better builder than his dad. (He might already be, but don’t tell him that).
CZ: You’ve been interviewed for Velocity and the Caddy was at SEMA. (Spoiler) You had Ryan Evans from Counts Kustoms paint the art on the roof. How does it feel that the product of your idea and hard work is getting so much attention?
JD: Man, that’s a big question. Cause Ryan doing my roof, as you know, is a one-off and one-of-a-kind to begin with, but secondly, I would say I didn’t “have Ryan” do my roof he did it out of the kindness of his own heart all on his own. The story to that goes further back. Ryan is what I consider to be a very very good friend of mine and the discussion about the roof was had during a parts-pulling day at my house for his personal dream project; his beautiful 1969 Cadillac. All, or at least most, of the parts for his build came from a car I had. While pulling his parts we were discussing what I was going to do with the ’68 as we both are Cadillac addicts. Even at that time I had no idea he wanted to do the roof for me. By the end of the day it was decided that, for many of his own personal reasons, he wanted to take on the roof. All I can say is I am forever grateful because, he is the most talented automotive artist in the world. He’s a great friend that I have a deep amount of admiration and love for. Just two Cadillac addicts trying to help each other fulfill our Caddy dreams.
CZ: So, we’re featuring the beautiful 1968 Cadillac Coupe de Ville that you premiered at SEMA. What’s the history of the car and what inspired you to do a SEMA build?
JD: I have built around 100 Cadillacs and I actually was in the process of building this car when Chemspec/Metalux came to me and asked if I would have it ready in time to display in their booth at SEMA. So, I am not sure if it was inspiration or desperation but, I committed to it and I always do what I say I am going to. So, I had to have the car ready for SEMA. I was actually building a 1966 Caddy coupe and my brother got rear ended in his ‘55 Caddy so he talked me into selling the ‘66 to him. I only agreed because at the same time I had a friend selling the ’68 Caddy and I am a bigger fan of the 472 motor vs. the 429 that came in the ‘66. So, I agreed to sell the ‘66 and buy the ‘68 the same day. I took the car down to bare metal and started the fabrication from there.
CZ: I watched you do an interview and you said “no one’s ever done it.” Was that your main motivation for this particular build? Did you have any other motivation or inspiration that went into it?
JD: My main motivation was to do a one-off 60’s Cadillac that no one has ever done. A car that when you pull into a car show, or better yet a Cadillac show, it would stand out and there wouldn’t be another one there like it. I wanted to piss-off the purest and show the world that one-off cars can be built in a garage with a limited number of people that’s even better than what TV tries to lie about. I always build cars that no one else has or has seen. I believe in putting originality and my heart into them to make them special and one of a kind. I think over all, like it or not, we accomplished what we set out to do. The other motivation was my mom. She passed away at the end of 2015 from cancer and that motivated me to start working on the ‘68 in 2016. Her favorite color was red and I wanted to finish the car for her.
CZ: It’s difficult nowadays to do something that no one has ever done. How did you come up with the concept for the Caddy? From the paint scheme and the interior, to the disc brakes on all wheels and the hidden exhaust it’s extremely original. Were these things mapped out beforehand or did they come together on the fly?
JD: That’s an interesting topic because I have a vision almost instantly when I see a Cadillac. It comes to me from the paint, to interior, to mechanical. The day I loaded this car up I already knew everything that was going to be done, including the paint. The only things that were “on the fly” were the wheels. I had a vision in my mind of what I thought would be perfect but after trial and error with WheelHouse test fitting wheels, we totally stepped the game up and went where no one has gone yet. The exhaust is a true dual exhaust with 15” glass packs coming out the skirts. As for the color combination, I designed this color in my head 4 years ago and waited to put it on the right Caddy. Chemspec/Metalux and their tech came out and took what was in my head and mixed 14 spray outs until we nailed the color. This isn’t a factory color from any car; a complete one-off color you won’t see on any car. The funny thing is, the car sits so low most people have no idea it has disc brakes all the way around. CPP Classic Performance Parts sponsored us for this, but wasn’t even sure how to put the system on this car. 2 or 3 days and a few cuss words later, we got it handled and she will stop on a dime no question. Best modification over the ‘68 drum brakes ever.
CZ: How long did the build take? There were a lot of contributors and sponsors. Would you like to take the time to explain the people and companies?
JD: Well I had other cars I was building but, I messed around with the body here and there for about 3 years, not really focusing on this build. I didn’t get serious until the beginning of 2016 and then real serious in May when I was asked to have it ready for SEMA. So, all in all, the majority of the build took place in 6 months; from May to November. CZ editor note: The list of sponsors is below
CZ: I noticed a lot of the contributors / sponsors are from Las Vegas. Was it important to you to keep the build local or did that just occur organically?
JD: Well for me and for what I was trying to accomplish, I wanted to keep everything local. I wanted to show people that you can do a build like this in a garage. When you have what you need around you to build a quality show car and you don’t need a TV show and 15 people or millions of dollars to build a quality one-off show car. Not to mention that I have some really amazing friends that are as passionate about these old cars as I am and are excited to be a part of making something amazing happen. They all are great in their own special way.
CZ: In your Velocity interview (video is at the end of the feature below), you seemed really pumped about the unique exhaust. Is that still your favorite feature of the Caddy?
JD: Hahaha! That is funny because there was 4.5 hours of film that Velocity cut into 2.5 minutes and that was one of the sections they focused on, not me. Actually, the exhaust is definitely a cool feature and not common but, I wouldn’t say a favorite of mine. (Or anyone’s for that matter.) There are so many one-off custom things we did to this “Big Bitch”(her nick name), that it’s hard to pick just one. I would say my favorite is definitely the roof Ryan did for me. One, because it’s one-off completely bad ass and an amazing piece of art (I call it his Picasso) and two, it was the exact center piece I wanted it to be for this car. My second favorite would be the brake set up. It’s one of the only 60’s or older bagged Cadillacs with non-factory disc brakes front and rear.
CZ: Can you talk a little bit about the roof? What was it like to have Ryan Evans spend the time working on your build? Was the design his idea, your idea, or a collaboration?
JD: This is always a great story but to try and recreate the conversation is difficult. Basically, we were discussing my intentions for the ’68 while pulling parts for his Caddy. As low as she sits when she’s laid out, the roof had to be the center piece because it’s below chest level. That was my plan; old school art. I am the builder not the artist by any means, so as we talked about it and I explained it to Ryan it was just 2 guys talking about plans for a Cadillac that we both love. As the discussion went on that day it moved from what I envisioned (the roof being the center piece of the whole build) to Ryan saying “so I can do whatever I want”, to me saying in shock and surprise, “if you want to do it, fuck yea, you can write your name if you want I don’t care as long as it’s bad ass and RED.” Ryan questioned the RED but I showed him and that was my only input to the roof; that it was RED. Everything else was his genius and artistic nature.
CZ: It’s obviously a very successful build. When you walk out to the garage and you see the Caddy what is the first thing that goes through your mind?
JD: Haha, I am not sure if it’s a “successful build.” I have built many, many Cadillacs and I love all of them like my children. I just build them one car at a time and put all of my heart into each one, and each one has a piece of me in them. I won’t tell you where, but those that are close to me can tell you where I am in each car I build. Just like any relationship, some days I walk out into the garage and I love that Big Bitch like nothing else and other days I wonder why she hates me. Hahaha! But, every time I start up that 472 and she airs up and we roll out I get goose bumps…. I love these old Caddys, “Standard of the world” and I’ll keep building them for as long as I can.
CZ: Is there anything else you’d like to mention that I haven’t brought up?
JD: The interior is all suede. And red. Done by Upholstery works here in Vegas. The stereo deck was done by DC Sound here in Vegas also. It’s a period correct deck but has all the new technology in today’s head units. I think we should touch on the red for a second. Some like it and others hate it. It’s been a vision I have had since I brought the Big Bitch home. I mean you can only see so many murdered out Cadillacs before you’re just over it and red is a traditional Cadillac color. So, again, I wanted to shy away from the played out black and traditional chrome and do an original unique thing so I went with red ( also my mom would have loved it).
1968 Coupe de Ville Modifications
Club Affiliation: Freaks of Nature
Exterior mods: The roof is a one-off art work done separately by the master genius RYAN EVANS of Counts Kustoms. Everything on the exterior has been shaved. Full custom paint design. The color was picked and designed by Jason and created by Chemspec/Metalux. Lesa’s Auto Body Supplies in Las Vegas and Chemspec/Metalux sponsored the paint. All the red metal exterior parts and interior parts on the car have been powder coated. This was sponsored by POWDER COATING PLUS of Las Vegas.
Interior mods: The interior was converted from a 70’s original dark green to the red suede you see now by UPHOLSTERY WORKS of Las Vegas. The audio system is an original looking factory deck with the guts changed out to more modern digital set up. It has Bluetooth and all of the new technology and was sponsored by DC SOUND of Las Vegas.
Wheels/Tires: The wheels chosen are 18″ STR’s sponsored by WHEELHOUSE of Las Vegas
Suspension/brake mods: This Caddy is one of the few bagged Cadillacs that has been fitted on all 4 wheels with complete disc brake set up sponsored by CPP CLASSIC PERFORMANCE PARTS. The suspension is a complete air ride suspension with the new Slam Box technology.
Engine mods: The Engine is a factory Cadillac 472 (Who needs to change that) with minor upgrades and powered by 2 amazing battery cells sponsored by REIKKEN power cells.
In conclusion, I personally feel like Jason accomplished everything he wanted with his 1968 Coupe de Ville. The color is STUNNING, the wheels are PERFECT, and every detail has been given attention. The roof is absolutely jaw-dropping, the engine sounds angry, and Jason even left the original ashtrays in the Caddy (my personal favorite touch). Words can’t describe as well as pictures can how beautiful the 1968 Coupe de Ville is so, here they are. Take time in each photo to examine the details because, there are many things about this car that turn heads but, I think the attention to detail is what makes it great.
1968 Coupe de Ville Featured Photos
Photos by Kevin Cunningham, CarShowz.com
1968 Coupe de Ville SEMA Photos
Photos by Jeff Cantagallo, CarShowz.com
As I write this, Jason has put the 1968 Coupe de Ville up for sale. The link is http://www.ebay.com/itm/112367524173. Some of you might be wondering what Jason has up his sleeve next. Why is he selling this beautiful Caddy that he loves so much? Is he moving on? Does he have another project? I know the answers to those questions but, I think you’ll want to check back often for updates.
Thank you Jason Duhon for your time, the opportunity to sit down and dive into your brain a bit and most importantly for your friendship!
Jason’s SEMA Battle of the Builders Interview / Feature